"There's a loneliness with Elliot that a lot of people can latch on to but there's also a lot of heroics with him," the actor says of his character on the new USA drama

By Patrick Gomez
Updated June 24, 2015 03:55 PM
Credit: Jim Spellman/Wireimage

Rami Malek may just make cyber security engineers the new superheroes.

The actor, who plays a computer whiz-turned-vigilante-hacker on the new USA drama Mr. Robot, tells PEOPLE, “There’s a loneliness with Elliot that a lot of people can latch on to. But there’s also a lot of heroics with him.”

Malek continues, “Despite all odds, he is trying to make a difference, and I think that speaks to our nature to persevere when our backs are against the wall.”

Most recognizable from HBO’s The Pacific, the Night at the Museum franchise and the final installment of the Twilight saga, Malek considers himself to be “pretty outgoing” but has found it easy to step into the “quiet” world of the socially anxious Elliot.

“I’ve had to turn off all the things that I would do in normal life. I would walk down the street sometimes and act in a way that I thought Elliot would and the response was incredibly unusual,” he says. “People smiled at me less. There was less acknowledgement of me as a human being.”

But Malek hopes that viewers will see the humanity in Elliot – and the series, which also stars Christian Slater.

“I think that people will be hungry for this show in the same way they are hungry for change in our society. I hope it incites some type of change,” says Malek, who then lightens the mood: “But, at the same time, it’s also an engaging really fun, fast-paced thriller that people can enjoy.”

Mr. Robot premieres Wednesday at 10 p.m. ET on USA.